When Is Immediate Breast Reconstruction Appropriate?
Having to make a decision as to whether or not to undergo reconstructive surgery of any kind can be hard and stressful. Having to make that decision upon learning that you have breast cancer makes it an unbearably difficult one. Unfortunately, this is something that many women face every day, as the risk of developing breast cancer is one out of every eight women.
A majority of these women will undergo a mastectomy as a crucial part of their treatment. It is during this “surreal” period of time that they may have to make another crucial decision: should they pursue immediate breast reconstruction in conjunction with the mastectomy or should they just wait and determine later on whether or not they want to proceed with reconstruction?
Ultimately, this is a very personal decision that only the affected woman can make based on a variety of considerations.
Are You A Candidate for Immediate Reconstruction?
Of course, the issue of breast reconstruction, and particularly immediate reconstruction, needs to be medically prudent and supported. That is, both the general surgeon (who performs the mastectomy) and the plastic surgeon (who does the reconstruction) have to determine whether or not you are a reasonable candidate, based on a variety of risk factors, to proceed with the reconstruction. Major medical and other issues can quash any consideration for immediate reconstruction and possibly even for delayed reconstruction.
Provided that you are a reasonable candidate for breast reconstruction and you are interested in pursuing this, there are benefits to both timeframes. Neither is necessarily a wrong choice. Delayed reconstruction gives you adequate time to heal physically and emotionally. It also allows you to look at your reconstruction choices with a different mindset because the initial fear of your diagnosis is not there. The overall complication rate can also be lower.
On the other hand, immediate reconstruction does have some advantages over the delayed approach, such as the emotional benefits of knowing that you are closer to being more whole again and you will have a less drastic change in your chest versus a complete void. Another is that you may ultimately require fewer total procedures to obtain the targeted long-term results.
Again, only you can determine which of these choices you would be best for you.
Different Techniques are Available for Immediate Reconstruction
Several techniques are available and appropriate for immediate as well as delayed reconstruction. Your individual situation and preferences will help determine what would be best for you. The potential choices can include the immediate placement of breast implants, the usage of tissue expanders followed later by the insertion of breast implants, and the usage of autogenous (your own) tissue taken either from your back, abdomen, or buttocks.
Breast Reconstruction has Benefits
A breast cancer diagnosis and what is associated with it is traumatic and devastating to many women. Fortunately, breast reconstruction may help to ease some of the short and long term consequences of this cancer and allow women to feel more whole, confident, and feminine.